Love, Mom and Babe

GET TO KNOW… ASquaredMamaSquared

Allia is a Senior Producer at Verizon Media and Alison is a High School English and Drama Teacher. They are mamas to Kingston Grey, 20 months old.

Very excited to share this feature on our family, from the website Ani and Wren (a maternity-wear and baby store in Toronto, Ontario). All photos are by Trish Mennell.



AC: As a queer couple, we knew that we wouldn’t have what some people see as a conventional approach to pregnancy. We both had an interest in carrying and, for us, deciding what donor process we would use helped to shape our decisions. We wanted our children, if we had several, to be biologically related to one another, so we had to explore some different options. Ultimately, fate decided some things for us.

AM: Because I was older we decided that I would try carrying first. We quickly encountered lots of surprises and challenges. The fertility industry wasn’t as progressive as we had hoped. Forms we filled out didn’t have options like “no man in the relationship” which led to one of our first intake forms saying, “Diagnosis — same-sex couple.” Additionally, we found ourselves having to educate people, including medical staff at various clinics and even at the hospital, about the specifics of how a same-sex couple comes to find themselves expecting. One of these trips to the hospital happened after my second miscarriage. Getting pregnant was easy for me, keeping the baby was the hard part. After two years of trying, I decided to take a break for my mental and physical health. 

AC: That meant that I was on deck. With me carrying, we chose a donor with a similar background as Allia, Jamaican-Irish; it was really important to us, as an interracial couple, that our kids have a similar racial background. It worked out pretty beautifully. Our son looks like both of us and we love that whomever is with Kingston is automatically assumed to be the mother. Obviously we both ARE the mother, but you’d be surprised how many people ask bold, often ignorant questions. A lot of people are still not used to seeing children with two moms, or even with different backgrounds from one or both parents (whether that be multi-racial or blended families, adoption, surrogacy, etc). Of course, we are just happy that he is healthy and ours.

Momspiration - Kingston + Mom


AM: You really can’t prepare yourself for the moment of seeing your child for the first time. I was overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude for our midwives and our doula. But I was also fully fearful of the realness of motherhood, and just stunned at Alison’s strength during labour. The first 100 days included moments where we’d look at each other and joyfully say, “we have a baby!” or “we’re parents!” There were also lots of conversations around poop. 

AC: I felt everything! Literally, too, since the epidural only worked on one side of my body. I was so in love from the minute I knew I was pregnant, then even more once he was born. You think you love your partner, then you meet your child and you think “not like THIS.” It’s terrifying to care so much about something, and anxiety-provoking to love and want to protect this tiny, fragile little person. I didn’t know how I would do with “mothering” to be honest. I love teaching high school aged kids, but babies were a bit of a mystery, so I was relieved at how much I enjoyed it. He was a very happy baby, so that definitely helped.

Allison + Allia + Kingston


AC: It was a natural pick for us and we agreed quickly on his name. I grew up with a cottage on Wolfe Island, spending much of my childhood in Kingston, Ontario. Allia was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, and those roots hold a deep significance for her. His name reflects our two worlds and how he is a blend of both. With a mouthful of a last name, we wanted a short, strong middle name. I’m a big fan of Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray), with one letter changed, it’s a nod to queer literary history.

Momspiration Family


AM: For a lot of individuals who identify as BIPOC or are part of the LGBTQ+ community, we find ourselves talking about race, racism and sexuality frequently. As a couple, we have always been open about our fertility journey and our queer identity. And I don’t shy away from conversations around my multi-racial identity. We are conscious of the images Kingston sees, the media he might consume and we recognize the importance of diversity and celebrating difference in all aspects of our life. My hope is that he will feel we have created a safe, brave space for him to be curious about these issues so we can have open, honest conversations.

AC: In some ways those choices and conversations are just a natural part of raising a child. You reflect what you value in the choices you make. And the discussions that might seem awkward or difficult become second nature when you are proud of who you are, who you love and your heritage. Removing shame from the equation really opens up the possibility of raising a child in a deliberate, celebratory way; we hope to raise a little person who is gentle, thoughtful, courageous, open-hearted and with a generous spirit. He is growing in an incredible community of strong, vibrant people. He has great role-models and sees different cultures, sexualities and love all around him. 

Allia + Kingston


AM: My commitment has always been to celebrate difference and drive diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives. Because of the positions I hold within my job and my volunteer work, I’ve found myself in daily conversations around race, anti-black racism and diversity or the lack of it. Cue the extreme exhaustion. I’ve learned to lean into the discomfort with these conversations and create a brave space for others to center courage, care and vulnerability over silence. It’s not easy. I’m not alone in feeling the weight of the opportunity to redefine our reality. I have an amazing support system around me, both personally and professionally, who continue to recognize my fluctuating needs during this difficult time. They’ve stepped up their allyship by listening to my experiences and educating themselves on the issues surrounding systemic racism. I’ve seen many start to self-examine their own privilege and move from ally to accomplice by taking actions to support the black community. I’m encouraged by all of this because the issues we are facing aren’t going to be solved in one or two meetings, one or two actions; however, we can start by listening, self-examining, and practicing allyship through continued actions and conversations. My hope is that this is a movement and not just a moment. When anti-racism isn’t trending, will you still be there?

AC: I am committed to making changes, looking at my own bias/privilege and using the power I am afforded as a straight-passing, cis, white woman to make changes and amplify the voices of those within marginalized communities. It’s an ongoing journey and a responsibility to fight for change. At work, I’m part of my union’s Rights and Equity Committee. At my school, I am the GSA advisor, and an Equity Lead, helping to plan and facilitate professional development for our staff, including anti-black racism forums. In my classroom, I explicitly embed diverse sexualities, gender and cultural representation in the media, social issues and discussions, but there is a huge gap in core literature, so I’m doing an inventory and working to enrich our courses with Black and Indigenous content. I’m excited for two upcoming summer PD sessions, a racial justice and anti-racist learning series, to build my capacity in effective allyship and dismantling systemic racism. I want our son to grow up to see that meaningful change is in our hands. I am seeing, more and more, that my board and my colleagues are talking about, but also prioritizing this work and it makes me feel very hopeful. 



AM: We are supporters of the Inside Out Film Festival, SickKids, as well as mental health and equity initiatives through both of our work and personal relationships. We try to support local, whenever possible. 

AC: Both of us have been involved in creative projects with an amazing independent Toronto Publisher, With/out Pretend, whose work centers on the idea that “Feelings Can Be Art.” That really resonates with us. In addition to doing a collection and live readings called “On Mothering,” which we loved, they explore concepts of care, mental health and self-expression, featuring writers of colour, women, non-binary and often underrepresented authors and artists. We both have big stacks of books on our night tables; I just finished Empire of Wild, and I’m currently reading White Fragility, Wow, No Thank You and The Book of Joy.

AM: I’m juggling Well-Read Black Girl and A Brief History of Seven Killings. We just bought lots of exciting stuff for Kingston, including Hair Love, Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History, I Am Enoughand Red: A Crayon’s Story. Don’t even get us started on television or podcasts!



AC: I came out when I was sixteen and have celebrated every year since, almost always on Church Street. We took Kingston to Family Pride events last year and that sense of fierce pride, celebration and community is what I want to share with him. I have been so lucky to have unconditional support from my family and we want him, above all else, to know that our love for him is constant and unwavering. Raising a son, we think a lot about what kind of man he will become, but also recognize that he is an individual; whether he is gay, straight, bi, trans… our child will be secure in our love. We want him to see us actively celebrating all kinds of people and identities. To help pave the way, we make some pretty deliberate decisions; we don’t steer him towards stereo-typically masculine toys, clothes, haircuts or expression. He is as likely to hand us The ABCs of Equality, as Little Blue Truck; he has pink jungle-print leggings and a baseball cap; loves his black baby doll and his blocks. We want to leave all options open, to see where he wants to go and who he wants to be.

AM: My journey towards self-acceptance was challenging. Raised religious, I struggled with my identity for most of my life. I’ve come a long way to embrace all aspects of myself. Finding power in one part of my identity has helped me feel pride in the others. It’s hard to love all of yourself if one part is being pushed aside. Pride is also about helping others feel comfortable being them self. As a mother, I would never want my son to feel he couldn’t be his full, authentic self. 

Momspiration Family


AM: These words, by Katherine W. Phillips, sum up my personal, professional and mom-mantra: “The environment I wish to create in all aspects of my life will be one where difference is normalized. If you create that kind of environment in your organizations, in your schools, in your families, you will find that the value of diversity is there for you to capture.”


Travel with Baby


Planning our trip to Mexico with a two month old, was a great challenge for these new moms. It was a grand success. Check out the photos at the end. Drumroll…here is what we packed:

  • Infantino Carrier
  • Travel bassinet
  • wipes
  • diapers and swim diapers
  • formula (pre-mixed or concentrate)
  • birth certificate, parent letter and passport
  • breast pads/washable inserts
  • pump (we skipped this since I’m now producing enough milk on my own, with some formula top-ups)
  • bottles and tops, enough to have spares
  • lactation aide (we also skipped this)
  • baby shampoo, creams (diaper cream, lotion, etc.), bug repellent (safe for babes)
  • rashguard, swim diaper, sunhat and sun glasses
  • baby headphones
  • pacifier/soother
  • clothes
  • carseat, base (or learn to safely install without the base), stroller attachment
  • changes of clothes for you
  • I’m investigating, in advance of travel, to see if our destination stocks the formula, diapers and other things we like for baby. If we can avoid taking a week’s supply, that will really save on space 
  • Also, look up whether breast feeding in public is safe/legal/recommended in your destination
  • Sleep Sheep or white noise machine
  • medications (like Domperidone, for me)
  • vitamins for you and vitamin D for baby
  • coconut oil for sun protection for the babe
  • a UV protecting cover for the stroller. Jolly Jumper makes a great one and Milk Snob has a great cover that doubles as a nursing screen
  • Diaper cream and corn starch
  • Baby paper and some simple toys (we ended up getting some beautiful, colourful pompom garlands in a market, which he couldn’t take his eyes off. These now hang over his change table! But careful that he isn’t unsupervised, as with anything that involves string)
  • Nosefrida (for air travel and stuffiness)
  • Infant Tylenol
  • Gripe Water if you have a gassy baby

We upgraded our tickets and baby’s first trip was in Business Class.

First Class Flyer – extra leg room, wider seats and a bulkhead gave us ample room for him. No tears at all on either flight to and from Mexico! Bravo little traveller!
This was the main entrance to the condos we called home for two weeks.
Watching the sunrise. Three generations.
A boy and his Mama
They see me Strollin’


For Clothes, we knew we’d have access to in-suite laundry, so we packed:



Shorts and pants

Short-onesies/rompers (this was the majority of the outfits)

Pajamas – for the plane and at night with the A/C

Burp cloths and muslin wraps


A knit jacket/sweater for air conditioned spaces and the plane




Copy of his birth certificate, immunization record, passport, health card

Swimming with baby was an amazing first.

We loved all the time with each other, with him and with our family. For the rest of the trip photos, scroll down, past the last of the items from our travel must-haves.


Fanny pack, a carry on for us, carry on Diaper bag, small purse, big suitcase x 2 (one for us and one for all the baby stuff), a small suitcase of diapers and formula.

We made a call to set up/confirm our travel insurance/health insurance, etc.

We arranged a cat and house sitter, and also opted to use the Park ‘N Fly valet service (plus detailing) so we came home to a happy cat, safe home and a clean car.

Adios, Mexico and Gracias for a great first vacay with our blossoming family.


Now, listen…
Always time for a tasty snack.

Enamoured of pom poms

Stroller styles

Our little global traveller

Nautical vibes

Out at the Tuesday Market

Family photo at NickSan


Big Baby-sized Beer

Hot Mama, with our Milk Snob Stroller cover

Babiators. And a babe x2
Hard to believe our little one is 11 weeks old!

What are your travel must-haves? Share your faves in the comments!

All about the bust


Inspired by easy access to the boobs, these are the outfits that are in rotation right now – as a newly-nursing mama. 

First up, ASOS; they have an amazing selection of basics, as well as nursing/maternity dresses and tops, so cute that they don’t even look like nursing specific garments.

ASOS DESIGN Maternity Nursing Cami With Clips 2 Pack SAVE

Zara is a treasure trove of items that aren’t nursing specific, but sure do fit the bill. 

I can’t wait to wear this in Mexico when we head off with our little one in tow. 

Zara checked dress
Draped checked blouse, riding the plaid trend from fall into winter.
Zara dress
Oversized patchwork shirt – Zara
Bird satin tunic – Zara

The basics already in your closet can also find their way into nursing-friendly outfits. 

I made a point of sectioning off my closet, moving conducive items to the front of drawers (I fold Marie Kondo style, like library books in my drawers, spine up), and in the closets I have a section just for items that ‘fit’ as nursing wear. 

The penchant for sleepleisure is perfect for moms (or anyone, really). A cool relaxed pant and pajama-style top are easy, breezy, with full front access. 
This screams chic, while maintaining the comfort needed to plunk down on the floor, change a quick diaper or feed a writing child. 
Chicnico is on to something with this mustard-hued sweater. Wear anytime, anywhere. Almost.

From a site that boasts ‘sexy but modest’ clothing… this is definitely a wear-on-repeat idea. I have a Halston Heritage-inspired vintage silk dress, handed down from my mother, that looks pleasingly similar to this one!

More great cardigans from Lauren McBride. Versatile and cozy.

Rounding out the on-trend items on deck, we have a jumpsuit, onesie, or romper. I have a gorgeous crush velvet version in navy blue from Aerie/American Eagle. It’s surprisingly easy to wear and layered over a cropped t-shirt it actually functions like a nursing outfit, but also looks amazing and feels like a playsuit. Velvet is in demand this season, but has staying power since it keeps cropping up when the temperatures drop.

An easy, ‘yes.’ Who doesn’t have a patterned longline blazer or cardigan? Wear it over lingerie or a bedroom inspired tank. Double yes.

Basic, in the best possible way; buttons, waffle knit, loose and versatile. This even has snaps instead of buttons. I couldn’t ask for more.

What I like best about all these pieces is that many are items I already own. Others, I will be able to keep wearing them long after my little one has graduated to solids… which is, I think, a solid investment. 

Put a Ring On It – But Keep Your Mouth Shut About Other People’s Rings


Even though I’m already married and the ‘ring search’ is far behind me, I still love looking at engagement rings and seeing what is new and exciting in that world. On a blog I was reading recently a woman posted the following:

“I see so many posts about moissanite and never realized it’s as popular as it is. I was under the impression it was a relatively new creation. I have had several people ask me if my diamond ring is “real” and I have to admit that it bothers me. Also, how do you even respond to that? Anyway, I am looking forward to reading other points of view.”

My thoughts:

I think my perspective is definitely shaped by the fact that I do not care about other people’s opinions about my ring and I also don’t have friends who would ever judge my relationship (or my financial status) based on the ring I’m wearing. When planning our wedding with my spouse we decided, deliberately, that we did not want expensive or ostentatious rings. What we did want were one of a kind, unconventional and unique rings that suited our style and our lifestyle. I work with my hands and would be nervous to wear something too precious. Not that I didn’t try on a variety of rings… but every time I tried a stunner with a gem that was raised too far from my finger, I felt like I’d get it caught on things, destroy it and every surface in my house, but mostly …like it was totally impractical.

In the end, my ring was made by a friend who is a jeweller; it’s unconventional and we used rough diamonds, so no sparkle really. No one has ever asked if they are ‘real’. However, many people have asked about the ring, the design and where they can contact the creator (Breanne Morrow at White Feather Designs).

View More:

Photo by Sweetheart Empire. Rings by White Feather Designs

View More:

Engagement photos by Kate O’Connor of Sweetheart Empire

I think what bothers me about the idea of people asking the original poster these questions is this: why are they asking? Is there some further question they need to have answered? Why do they care?

Maybe they are a gemologist? Maybe they are looking for an engagement ring. But if it’s because they want to know how costly the ring is… why? It’s none of their business and it’s super tacky that they are asking.

Perhaps they want to know because they are considering their options, or maybe see the value in a ring that doesn’t support an industry that has some problems (conflict diamonds, environmental impact), but you can probably already tell that this is their view based on the way they ask.

At the end of the day, I don’t know why it’s anyone’s business what you choose for something as personal as your wedding/engagement rings.

True Blue Baby


This bump fashion is going strong, considering my preference for loose, swingy clothes I’m feeling very fortunate. Today was a comfy one (thank you Fashion forecasters for keeping running shoes as an appropriate option… I could not be more grateful).

It’s still a bit crisp in the mornings, so a bright patterned bomber is perfect for the a.m. I can’t tell you how many times I get compliments on these vintage shell and rope earrings. A friend gave them to me second hand, claiming ‘they are so ugly, I have no idea how to wear them… but I honk you can pull them off.

I take that as the ultimate challenge. If someone says it’s unwearable – let me at it.

I know I’m lucky to be feeling so good right now…Even at 7:30 am when these were taken. I’m welcoming all the changes this pregnancy body is bringing. I also just got a big delivery of maternity pants in the mail. Cannot wait to integrate them and get into some pants that don’t squeeze around my middle.

Cheers, from almost-seventeen weeks,

Xo A

Four Years

Love, Wedding

I can hardly believe that four years have passed since the day I married my wife. It feels like yesterday. It feels like a lifetime ago. So much has happened.


This accidental magic captures how I feel with you. Photo: Sweetheart Empire (Kate O’Connor)

For our fourth Anniversary, aside from the silk/satin motif (silk screened pregnancy announcement tees, and silk pajamas), Allia made us a wedding video. Watching it takes me back to exactly how I felt in those moments. It perfectly encapsulates the magic of our day.

Why do I care about that? Partly because it feels momentous and nostalgic to look back at happiness that still feels tangible and vivid, partly because there are people who told me this would never happen.

Allia and Alison’s Wedding (for the video follow this link)



When I first came out, it was six years before gay marriage was legalized in Canada (2005). I was a teenager, but I remember one of my mom’s friends saying, sympathetically, ‘It’s so sad that Alison won’t have a wedding and you’ll never have grandkids.’ Politely, my mom replied, ‘Fuck that.’

Not quite in those words, but with the same rebellious denial of that assumption. I am my mother’s daughter (and my father’s) and neither raised me to believe that anything I truly wanted was out of reach. They are the biggest advocates, even before I came out, they raised me to see every possibility and to feel entitled to happiness, love and acceptance. Maybe this is why I work so fiercely, at work and at play, to try to make others believe that we all deserve love, dignity and acceptance.

When people asked questions like, “will you ever get married?” “which one of you will wear a suit?” “so, you don’t want to ever have kids?” or made statements like “that must have been so hard for your parents” – I responded to it as a challenge.

We had exactly the wedding I envisioned, a reflection of our relationship, two people – full of laughter, dancing, old traditions and quirky, personal touches. I come from a theatre background and although I wasn’t a Disney princess sort of little girl, it never occurred to me that I couldn’t have a dreamy wedding fit for a fairytale. We themed it like a performance, a show, a circus, with several acts and lots of spectacle. It was a romance and a comedy. And I have never felt more at ease, so relaxed and so happy, in front of my loved ones, looking into the eyes of the woman I love.

I hope we can raise a little one who feels that swell of love and support, and will see that look in our eyes, four years, ten, twenty… fifty years from now.

Happy anniversary, my love. Cheers to many, many more.


Ring it in: 2018


I love nostalgia. Capturing the moment. Journaling. This site has become sort of a living version of this. I was gifted a supremely awesome new book for 2018: it’s a 5 year journal with a small space for each day of the year, where you can add to each ‘same day’ for the next 5 years in a row. Five years stacked on top of each other with gilded pages; you can scan back and compare at a glance how you were doing on each day. I’m very excited to crack the spine.  Blogger, Danielle at just did a really lovely post about journals, methods and content; check it out!


I started the Style Sa Vie site years ago to indulge my own creativity: I used to draw a picture of my outfit every day in high school, then technology came along and made it so much easier to bring that into sharp focus. Like choosing my clothes, I don’t write this for other people, that’s not why I started. But here, and on my other blog, where I chronicle my fertility journey with my wife, I get so much back from the kind emails, comments and encouragement of an online community. I sometimes wonder why I do this still. I’m not going to be an Alexa Chung or Aimee Song. But that was never the point. I have a life and a job that I love, and I have a hunch that I will like looking back at a snapshot of what life has been like, whether it’s the year in review, or a decade from now. Style Sa Vie is about the words: Style with a possessive adjective in front of Life. I want to own my life and curate it in a way that I find inspiring. A life of style. A style of living. Life that is mine.

In the spirit of hearkening back and looking ahead, a question: Do you believe in resolutions? For me this year will be about intention- being intentional. I want some guiding phrases, not edicts for a new year.

*Joy – be more joyful, rather than shredding joy with the tools of perfectionism, anxiety or guardedness. I am pretty comfortable with living and embracing vulnerability, but I can definitely get mired down, perseverating on things that just aren’t important. I’m going to Marie Kondo my attitude; does it spark joy? No? Then heave-ho!

*Let Go – This time of the physical stuff: of clutter, of things that no longer serve me. But also the metaphysical stuff: of the idea of perfect, or fears like ‘missing out,’ things taking too long to accomplish, or wondering what the next year will hold. Also, I’m getting rid of the self-judgement. I don’t judge the people I love; why do I do it to myself? I love me. But I should do it better.

*Start Now – this is the moment. Don’t wait for a ‘good time,’ or the ‘right’ time. If I see a repair in the house, go get the tools. If I think about a friend, call that person when it pops into your head. If I want something, what will I do to get it?

* Keep indulging and seeking new experiences. Don’t be complacent. If what I want is to savour a new taste and have another glass of wine. I will. If what I want is to get back to the Ballet Barre… I will do that, too. Also, Be creative. Remember how lucky I am. Celebrate my relationships. Take a deep breath. Don’t be frugal with your love and affection.

*Invest in people who invest in you. And invest in yourself!

*Create routines, but only if they help you reach these goals. I did 365 days of Outfits of the Day last year (which you can find in the style heading), so I can definitely do more mindful writing. Starting today: Journalling.

See you on the other side,

The Style Sa Vie